Myanmar, Bangladesh, malnutrition, humanitarian crisis

Bangladesh experiences unprecedented influx of refugees fleeing escalating violence

By Action Against Hunger

Sep 8 2017

Action Against Hunger warns of worsening humanitarian crisis

September 8, 2017 // An outbreak of heavy violence in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine State has resulted in an estimated 270,000 people fleeing across the border into Bangladesh over the past 2 weeks. A further 40,000 extremely vulnerable refugees have reportedly been waiting in temporary shelters at the border for days and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, particularly children and young mothers.

Current estimates indicate that this unprecedented influx of refugees fleeing the explosion of violence in Myanmar is on par with the total number of people who have fled across the border to Bangladesh over the last 10 months.

“We are working to respond to the alarming number of refugees crossing into Bangladesh, and are scaling up as fast as we can, adapting our response and mobilising emergency teams and resources to assist people as soon as they arrive,” said Action Against Hunger’s Country Director for Bangladesh, Nipin Gangadharan.

“We are extremely concerned. To put it simply, in just 11 days, an influx of more than a quarter of a million people could overwhelm any system,” he warned.

Since escalating tensions in Myanmar reached breaking point on August 25 when military and militants clashes intensified, Action Against Hunger has reported a significant influx of refugees into the port city of Cox’s Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh, with the majority of new arrivals being women and children, many traumatised, undernourished and in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. The aid agency is conducting emergency planning to anticipate needs, and is providing essential basic services for up to 120,000 refugees. 

As part of our emergency humanitarian response, Action Against Hunger provides psychosocial support to refugees from Myanmar. Photo: Action Against Hunger, Bangladesh

This huge influx of refugees is creating a critical humanitarian emergency in the affected region of Bangladesh at a time when the country is still struggling to recover from critical flooding and other natural disasters, with the speed at which this refugee crisis has escalated straining an already stretched-humanitarian system.

The violence in Myanmar has also forced the aid agency to temporarily suspend its health and nutrition program in Northern Rakhine State, leaving 9,000 children and 1,475 pregnant women and nursing mothers without humanitarian assistance. Action Against Hunger is calling for immediate additional funding to meet the urgent, basic survival needs of vulnerable populations. 

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Photo: Action Against Hunger, Bangladesh